[editors note: recently on social media on observer asked me why I thought a Christian could in good conscience choose to boycott CFA even if I had not made that decision for myself. This is my open letter to all those who are not sure what is up with their Christian brothers and sisters who will not be storming their local CFA to prove their Christianity tomorrow.]
Here is the thing that has been missed. I missed it in the initial coverage and am thankful to Rachel Held Evan’s blog for pointing it out. The sticking point for those of us who are Evangelicals is different from than that of the LGBT community. They are incensed about the comments made about homosexuality and it snowballs from there. However there is more to the story than one line by the CEO, the company has contributed a lot of money to an organization which has knowingly spread misinformation and lies about the LGBT community. As followers of one who calls himself the Truth, we as Christians should not fellowship with those who slander and defame others, even or especially those with whom they are in disagreement. I believe it is possible for someone to approve of the sentiment of Cathy’s statement; while abhorring the manner in which the company has chosen to make that disagreement public. Because of this I can see how a Christian who believes there are boundaries to the the sexual act could in all good conscience also side with the LGBT community on the wrongness of Chick-fil-a has handled its assertion. Hence I believe we can accept those who as Christians have chosen to boycott.
Looked at through that lens, the issue comes down not necessarily to one’s feelings on homosexuality, but to how one feels about treating others. Personally I feel that this is a case where neither side to more right or more wrong than the other. Chick-fil-a has made some mistakes in how they have handled themselves, but so has the LGBT community mishandled their legitimate beef with the organization. Unfortunately both sides have talked (or really yelled) past the other with neither seeking to understand the feelings of the other. The Christian community has been too quick to play the persecution card; while the LGBT community has not understood that disagreements over sexual boundaries does not necessarily constitute hatred or bigotry. I have many good friends on both sides of this issue and love them all; therefore I would not buy Chick-fil-a for someone without first knowing their feelings on the issue: to buy them for someone who is honorably trying to do something good would be to slap them in the face, and that to me is a needless provocation.
This is actually the type of situation Paul was addressing in 1 Cor. 8-10. In Christ there is freedom, freedom to choose how one wants to spend the money He has given them: freedom to buy and not to buy. For some there may be a concern that buying here would be supporting unChristian behavior. For some there may be freedom to step away from the pettiness of the situation and continue to purchase this product. Not use the term prejoratively (sp?) but here the one not buying should be viewed as the weaker brother since the actions of the one buying could taint their conscience in purchasing the product. Hence the ‘stronger’ brother who purchases should honor the ‘weaker’ brother whose conscience would be offended by having that product bought for them. Once again all of this thinking concerns the ethics of the above mentioned purchase, and really has nothing to do with the view of the biblical narrative on sexuality.
All that said. I would also think one could make an application of the 1 Cor. passage in question to how one carries themselves in the world. As a Christian I believe I have been placed in a position in which I have heard and understood the biblical teaching on sexuality. However there are many in the world who have not yet felt their heart strangely warmed as it were. If I believe I stand in the light, and this other stands in darkness; then I have a responsibility to not lord (pardon an awful pun) my position over another. Now if my being in the light was due to something I did; then perhaps I could. However as a orthodox believer (with no desire to slide into some semi-Pelegian malfeasance) I believe this fact has absolutely nothing to do with me and my actions. The fact I am in the light is God’s doing as His alone. I had no hand in my salvation. So how can I who have done nothing to deserve this gift, turn around and yell and scream about the intransigence of this other person in the dark. This person was just like me not too long ago. No, it would be far better for me to treat the other with love and respect. I choose to treat non-Christians living their lives: I love them first and foremost. Now over time a relationship might accrue, and as I have paid into the relationship over time, they might seek my advice and counsel on their life. At such a time I will choose my words carefully hoping to 1) maintain the relationship and 2) speak truth to the level at which our relationship stands. With greater deposits comes the ability to make greater withdrawals. To one with whom great trust has been built, great truth can be spoken. With those whom I have little trust accrued, little truth can be spoken (and by spoken here I mean spoken in way that will be listened to and considered). One might also consider this a possible lesson from the the parable of the talents (in reverse as it were).
Scripture calls us to be as wise as the serpent and as gentle as the lamb. That would mean this: the Church must be smart in how it talks and presents itself to the world-at-large. She must realize that the same type and level of dialogue cannot be used at all times. In our private moments when we are together and in Christ-centered relationship and dialogue with each other; then we have more freedom to talk and speak bluntly. However when speaking in public it may be wise to dial down the rhetoric and speak in terms that may be more palatable to those with whom we have no relationship and hence no trust built or accrued. Therefore for a Christian to go on a publicly accessible medium such as radio and use inflammatory rhetoric (even if true) provides no benefit (at most), and does great harm to its defining purpose (at worst).
[p.s.: this started out with a suggestion on my part: instead of purchasing a CFA to prove your fidelity; why not buy a meal for a homeless person. I still think God would be pleased with serving the poor; than making political points]